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Thursday, November 21, 2013
Is That All There Is?
I can't find the reference, but I seem to remember that it was Louis Armstrong who proposed that the only way to take American popular music seriously (as we should) is to grasp that every American pop song is a joke. Quite apart from the fact that it has been one of my favorite songs for a quarter century, I have always considered Peggy Lee's definitive performance of Leiber and Stoller's "Is That All There Is?" a quintessential representation of the depths available to pop music, but especially to pop music that assumes an ironic attitude toward those depths. Lee's 1969 recording was early but it wasn't the first, and we know only that the song was written in the mid-sixties, possibly some time around my birth day in 1965 I'd like to think, ushering me onto the planet.